Zcash (ZEC)

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Zcash Company
Founded 2016
Headquarters Lakewood, CO (Headquarters)
Key People Zooko Wilcox, CEO
Employees Approx. 50
Products ZEC
Twitter @zcashco
StockTwits ZEC.X
LinkedIn Profile
Facebook zcashco
Website Zcash Homepage
Blog Zcash Official Blog

Zcash (ZEC) is a cryptocurrency based on its own native blockchain. Its goal is to create a global, open economic platform that allows its users to make totally private payments.[1]


Zcash is a cryptocurrency that is an implementation of the "Zerocash" protocol, which is based on bitcoin's code.[2][3] The Zcash protocol is developed and maintained by numerous software companies, but primarily the Electric Coin Company.[4] Zcash is one of many cryptocurrencies accepted as donations by Wikileaks. The site started accepting ZEC in 2017.[5]


The Zcash protocol is designed to offer a greater degree of privacy than bitcoin. To accomplish this, it uses "zero-knowledge cryptography" to encrypt user data; this means that the encryption process does not require personal information to be sent to or handled by the service provider. In the case of Zcash, this means that some transactions made by Zcash users can be verified and added to the blockchain without Zcash operators handling any information that could be connected to the individuals making the transaction.[6]

Zcash has long been rumored to be a favorite among criminals due to these features.[7] In May 2020, a study by the Electric Coin Company (ECC), the operator of Zcash, and conducted by RAND Europe, concluded that criminals on the darknet who use cryptocurrency prefer bitcoin over Zcash, despite Zcash’s superior privacy features. Zcash has long been rumored to be the favorite of criminals for its ease of transacting privately; according to the recent study, however, the significantly larger number of bitcoin (BTC) transactions on the bitcoin blockchain enable criminals to “obfuscate money laundering in bitcoin.”[8][9]


Zcash, like many cryptocurrencies, is run via a decentralized blockchain-based network run by miners. Each miner uses a machine, such as a personal computer or specialized mining hardware, to contribute processing power to the overall network. Each of said machines are technically referred to as nodes.[10]

In January 2020, Zcash's online community voted to change the way the Zcash protocol rewards miners. Once the change is enacted, 20 percent of the rewards Zcash usually pays to miners for their contributions to the network will go instead to a development fund. These funds will be distributed to numerous companies, including the Electric Coin Company (7 percent), the Zcash Foundation (5 percent), and to various third-party developers working to maintain and develop software to support the protocol (8 percent). This new structure is expected to be implemented around November 2020, once block 1,046,400 is created, as long as the Electric Coin Company agrees to implement the change.[11]


Zcash's signature technology is Zero-Knowledge Succinct Non-Interactive Argument of Knowledge (or "zk-SNARKs"). It is a form of zero-knowledge cryptography that allows one party to verify the validity of a transaction to another, using only the hash of a number tied to that transaction. zk-SNARKs can do this in a very short amount of time (Zcash claims this can be done in milliseconds - hence the "Succinct" part of zk-SNARKs' name).[12]

In February 2019, Zcash released a public report on their blog revealing that the company had discovered a bug in Zcash's code that, while subtle, could have potentially done massive damage to the cryptocurrency by allowing users to digitally copy unlimited amounts of ZEC. The bug was discovered by Zcash cryptographer Ariel Gabizon in the code of zk-SNARKS, a type of cryptographic technology used to shield users' balances and identities from being publicly discoverable. The company took care to prevent the bug from becoming publicly-known while developing a fix for it, quietly adding it to Zcash's "Sapling" upgrade in October 2018.[13][14]

View Keys and Spend Keys

While most cryptocurrencies are designed to provide users with public and private keys, or addresses, Zcash provides a "view key" and a "spend key." The spend key is an encrypted virtual address that allows users to spend ZEC from their wallet, while the view key is used to allow users to view information about each other's transactions. A user cannot view information about another user's ZEC transactions without that user's view key; it's similar to how two users of a messaging platform cannot send each other messages without knowing the recipient's email address or username. Zcash also allows users to deliver encrypted messages to other users, provided they have that user's view key. These messages are not viewable to anyone without the view key.[15]

Vitalik Buterin

Ethereum creator Vitalik Buterin has praised Zcash's privacy-protection capabilities on more than one occasion. In May 2018, Buterin was asked during a livestream if he prefers Zcash or Monero, a competitor to Zcash. Buterin said that he would use Zcash if he was "doing anything seriously privacy-demanding."[16] In September that year, Buterin wrote on an Ethereum research forum that Ethereum developers should consider using zk-SNARKs to help Ethereum scale more effectively.[17]


According to the FAQ page on the official Zcash website, under the subheading "What is the difference between Zcash and Bitcoin," Zcash began as a fork of bitcoin. It is being developed by the Zcash Company.[18] The Zcash Company was founded by Zooko Wilcox in 2016.[19][20]


In May 2018, Gemini announced that it would begin supporting user deposits of ZEC into their accounts and that trading would launch on May 22. The first trading pairs with ZEC were ZEC/USD, ZEC/BTC, and ZEC/ETH.[21]

In August 2019, the U.K. branch of Coinbase announced that it would be dropping support for ZCash (ZEC) trading. The company sent out letters to its U.K. customers urging them to convert, liquidate, or transfer their ZEC holdings to other wallets by August 26th.[22] According to sources close to the matter, the decision was "completely to do with" Coinbase's new relationship with ClearBank, the bank that was to replace the role that Barclays formerly had with the company.[23]